07/29/2009 11:00PM

Bennett after 9th straight Thistledown win


Less than two months after spring meeting champion Jamie Ness set a Thistledown record for consecutive training victories by visiting the winner's circle nine times without a defeat, veteran horseman Gerald Bennett is poised to match Ness's efforts Friday.

Bennett began his eight-race streak on July 20 when El Supremo won the seventh race. The following day, he saddled two winners, Bello Pappa and Borobeta. Two days later, Bennett had a winning hat trick with Native March, Country Connection, and Number Uno Lady. His seventh and eighth winners came with Sister Nan and Cat's Got Legs on Monday.

Bennett's next opportunity at Thistledown comes in Friday's seventh race with Berkeley Square. A 5-year-old gelding, Berkeley Square has been idle since late January, but Bennett is confident Berkeley Square has a good chance to win.

"This horse has speed and is dropping from the $10,000 claiming level down to $4,000," said Bennett.

Ernesto Oro, Thistledown's spring meeting champion, has ridden all of Bennett's winners and will be in the irons Friday.

Bennett currently has divisions of horses at Presque Isle and Pinnacle Downs. He is best known for developing Beau Genius, who banked more than a million dollars. Beau Genius's 12 stakes wins included the 1989 Thistledown Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap.

Through the first seven days of the current meeting, Oro and Bennett have opened huge leads in the jockey and trainer races. Oro has won with 16 of his mounts, and Bennett has won with nine of the 10 horses he has saddled.

* Veteran trainer Rodrigo Madrigal Sr. is closing in on his 1,000th winner. He scored win No. 991 with Money Trail on Monday.